There are many unknowns when considering your estate plan, but you can’t let the uncertainties get in the way of creating some kind of plan. Having an imperfect plan is usually better than having no plan at all.
When planning an estate you hope to be able to address all the issues, but there are inevitably a number of unknowns that can make planning difficult. These include:
- How long you will live.
- How much money you will have left, which can depend on longevity and potential need for care.
- Your child or children’s health.
- Your child or children’s financial stability, now and perhaps many decades into the future.
- Distribution of your estate if you have no children.
There are also value judgments to make. Should you treat all children equally, or should their financial situations be taken into account? In any family, some siblings can be wildly successful financially, while others struggle. Some children may have supported you as you age and others totally ignored you. (A word to the wise, unless you have had a discussion with your children, consider treating them equally in your estate plan. You can provide differential support during your life, but unequal distributions at death can create difficulty if it comes as a surprise.) Should you create trusts that protect assets for your child, children or grandchildren, or simply provide that the funds be distributed outright at your death for them to use as they choose? Who should you appoint in various roles — as agent under powers of attorney, as health care agents, as trustees, as personal representatives?
Not having definitive answers to these questions can make it difficult to finalize an estate plan. However, before you get overwhelmed and give up on estate planning altogether, you need to consider the following:
- Any plan is better than no plan.
- We can’t totally predict the future, but just have to do the best we can based on what we know today.
- No plan is irrevocable. You can make changes as circumstances change or if you rethink what you want to do.
- It’s important to review your plan every five years or so, since circumstances and laws change.
The best way to approach estate planning is to address all of your questions and concerns with your attorney and then create the best plan based on current circumstances. Your attorney can walk you through all the options.
If you need help with estate planning matters, including Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives, Wills or Elder Law, get in touch today by calling (410) 848-4444. To see what others have said about us, please read the reviews on this website.